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Reaction to Egypt's new steel border wall with Gaza

Egypt is building a huge metal barrier to try to prevent cross-border smuggling. This is a selection of emails, and reaction given over the telephone, from people in Gaza, Egypt and Israel on the issue.

Reaction from Gaza

Abed was contacted by telephone: When we get a political solution, there will be no need for tunnels. I don't think this new wall will affect the smuggling, we are talking about thousands of tunnels. It would be a disaster if it did. It's illegal, but it's the only way people in Gaza receive the goods they need for their daily lives. With Israel's siege of Gaza and closure of the border, there is no way to feed Gaza people except through these tunnels. They do not satisfy all our needs, but it gives us the minimum. Abed Elrahman al-Assouli, Khan Younis, Gaza

Daraa was contacted by telephone: We heard about this a few days ago, we don't know how serious it is. Israel is mainly responsible for the siege imposed on us nearly four years ago, but Egypt - supposedly our brothers - plays a strong and active role in this strangling siege too. Many people have died in the tunnels when they have collapsed or the electricity blows up, trying to provide goods for others. Israel lets in so few items; we don't have food, drink, milk for babies, medicine, fuel, construction materials. We have been forced to build tunnels. We consider them illegal but they allowed us to resume our lives. Finally, whatever Egypt does, the Palestinian people will overcome it. We will just dig deeper tunnels. Daraa Mohammed, Gaza

By email: Palestinians, especially Gazans, have been suffering a lot because of the blockade. It must end. Many parties share in the crime of the siege: Egypt, America and some Palestinians. Personally I hate the way we get our goods through underground tunnels - by doing this we lost the attention of the world. Without them the world would have had to respond to our plight, now they do not. Therefore, this steel wall should have been built long ago, to convince the world to help us. Egypt should help us by opening the border directly and they should help us get rid of this stupid blockade, we cannot forget that Egyptians are our brothers, so they should be the first to help us and not add to our suffering. Montaser H Bahja, Jabalya City, Gaza Strip

Reaction from Egypt

The Palestinians are being treated like animals, by all the countries involved in this tragedy of a political paradox. Israel is building a wall, and now Egypt, adding to the blockade. To me this looks like a formula of segregation which pushes the Palestinians to support the likes of Hamas and "intifada". In fact the actions of Israel, Egypt and the US encourage the instability of the fragile ground on which peace illusions are built. Nonetheless, the wall will ease one of the headaches caused to Egypt by Israel. Mohamed al-Shazly, Cairo, Egypt

Egypt is doing this in response to pressure from the US and Israel to protect Israel from the alleged danger of these tunnels. However, these tunnels are used to smuggle life necessities such as food and medicines. Whatever weapons are smuggled through these tunnel never matches up to the Israeli war machine. Gazans live under very difficult conditions. I hope that the matter is looked upon in more scope than just Israel's security concerns. Ahmed, Cairo, Egypt

They should build shops on the Egyptian side of the border. That would relieve the need to smuggle in non-deadly goods, plus bring in money to the local Egyptians. Creating one big prison isn't going to persuade Gazan voters to elect a moderate government. Quite the opposite. Chris Smillie, Cairo, Egypt

Reaction from Israel

Egypt is constructing a huge steel wall, which has been imported from the US, and it is impenetrable, just to stop Gazans smuggling "everyday items" into Gaza. If that is the reason, doesn't it sound just a bit over the top? Helena Tenne, Kibbutz Maanit Israel

I truly support the establishment of that wall, it is not a secret that militants in Gaza are attempting all the time to smuggle bombs, missiles, grenades, machine guns and more, in order to hit the Israeli army and Israeli civilians. I believe that if this wall is constructed there will be much less weapon smuggling into Gaza, and that will maybe achieve longer period of the cease-fire between us. Ben, Tel Aviv, Israel

The Egyptians can build a security wall; In Ireland they can build a security wall. In other countries they can build a security wall; all with international approval. Only when Israel builds such a passive device does the international community treat it as a crime. Stuart Hersh, Kiryat Arba, West Bank



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